In this interview (translated by a very young Philip Ng), Wong tells the story of his first meeting with Ip Man — I’ve transcribed a good portion of it):
“He started about 17, 18 years old. (Ip Man’school) was a flat (apartment) … much like this. At that time, Wing Chun was not that popular yet…(Wong) didn’t know the histories….He’d heard of the name but didn’t know much about Wing Chun…people knew about the Sifu (Ip Man) but not about his art, Wing Chun…on the Internet there is a steory about how Master Wong went to the school and challenged or fought…and that (a particular Ip Man student beat Wong) but that isn’t the story (truth)…(but the truth is that particular student wasn’t there – it was New Years and he was out celebrating)…
Because Sifu (Wong) was young at the time and a little rowdy he decided he would exchange a few moves with one of the students at the school…then Sifu (Wong) knocked him down on the ground…Ip Man was very upset but Sifu (Wong) was very young and didn’t know proper school etiquette so he didn’t know that was not a good thing to do, to go and beat up one of their members. Then Ip Man says, these guys have not been learning a long time…Yip Man pointed out a student in the crowd …and said, “you spar with him.”
It was Ip Man’s nephew (Lo Man Kam)..(a long digression ensues where he doesn’t want to give the name and says he is a very famous Sifu now who isn’t in Hong Kong – Sifu Lo teaches in Taiwan)…in a very short time he finished off this opponent (Lo), much quicker and to a greater extent than he did the first opponent, knocking him down on the ground and so on and on and he kind of embarrassed him. Ip Man was very, very offended. And afterward he has not seen this person (LO) since…(Wong) later heard from his sihings that Ip Man yelled at his nephew a lot…a very harsh scolding. Then he (Lo) moved to Taiwan. After this incident, he really didn’t learn Wing Chun, after that.
As a result of beating Ip Man’s nephew, Ip Man decided to take on Sifu (Wong). Because it was New Years, all the elder students Ip Man could have easily sent to fight Sifu (Wong) weren’t there. .. Ip Man had to go himself….Sifu (Wong) used boxing to fight Ip Man. No gloves….When he fought Ip Man, Ip Man was very calm. Ip Man did not initially punch Sifu (Wong)…Master Wong was sitting there throwing jabs at Yip Man. All that Ip Man did was to keep him in check (demonstrates a Man Sau/ Wu Sau style guard)…and kept pushing him, pushing him. pushing him into a wall. And suddenly, he lashed out and grabbed Sifu (Wong) and threw a lot of punches at Sifu but none of them hit, but got really close. (He pulled his punches).”
Then a really tall student came in (Wong’s cousin). Wong fought the cousin, who was a head taller and heavier, and Wong go the worst of this fight. This was 1952. Wong asked to train and Ip Man told him to come back after New Years.
After 10 days of training, Ip Man came up to Sifu and asked him why he was learning Kung Fu. Sifu said “To kick ass.” Ip Man was very happy. All the other students said “self defense.” After four months, Wong went out and started having challenge matches. He was lucky because he was small and so not very intimidating and therefore got a lot of chances to fight.